Review of Court Decisions - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 35, No. 3
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
MATRIMONIAL—BROAD ARBITRATION CLAUSE—SUPPORT PAYMENTS—ARBITRABILITY
A broad arbitration clause contained in the parties' separation agreement, which was incorporated but not merged into the later judgment of divorce, did not give the arbitrator the authority to pass on the husband's claim that "changed circumstances" warranted a downward modification of the agreement's overall support provisions. Although the arbitration provision was broadly worded, it also contained language making specific subjects arbitrable. This, the court stated, suggested that the parties viewed the general arbitration language "somewhat qualifiedly." A modification of general support payments was not included in the list of arbitrable subjects. In addition, the separation agreement contained a detailed provision concerning methods of adjusting the support formula in response to a spouse's changed circumstances. Viewed in conjunction, these provisions indicated that the parties did not intend to submit to the arbitrator the issue of a modification in overall support payments. Finally, the court observed that the relief sought by the husband amounted to a request that the arbitrator rewrite the terms of the agreement, and thus "cannot be considered merely a claim arising from the contract."
Bowmer v. Bowmer, N.Y.L.J., May 7, 1980, p. 1, col. 6 (Ct. App.).